Why I am a Feminist – Richard Carrier

I am a feminist because feminism is simply the belief that women should be treated as fairly as men, and there is no factual or rational reason to want the world to work any other way. I would be a feminist even if women all the world over were treated as fairly as men and there was nothing more to be done. Because feminism is the view that that is the way things should be, and thus the way we should endeavor to keep things going.

But in fact the world is not there yet. Certainly not in the so-called third world. But even here in the first world, we are still a long way from a just and reasonable society, not only in this issue but in many–from the way gays and lesbians and atheists and all other minorities must still fight bigotry at both the social and institutional level (yes, appallingly, even here in the U.S.), to the way we allow stupidity and dogma and emotion to block us from doing the right thing in every national domain, from prison reform to tax reform to the elimination of antiquated (and ultimately religious) “vice” crimes. If you see how wrong we as a society are in every other domain, you should not be surprised that we are still as wrong in the matter of embodying the ideals of feminism.

If you believe women deserve equal treatment under the law (as the 14th amendment requires) and if you believe women ought to be treated in business and culture and personal relations as individuals the same way men are, then you are a feminist. If you don’t believe those things, you are a sexist. That people must be treated equally under the law stems from the same fact that they must be treated as individuals in every other domain: each person has their own assets and liabilities that often defy gender averages–for example, women may on average have lower upper body strength than men, but many individual women will be stronger than the average man just as many individual men will be weaker than the average woman, so the right standard to judge a person is by the abilities of the individual and not the averages of their sex, perceived or real. Even when differences are pervasive (e.g. many women can get pregnant, most men cannot), these have no bearing on most matters of evaluating a person’s merit (such as strength, intelligence, emotional resilience) or legal status (in most cases whether a given tax or law applies to you should not be determined by whether you have a womb or a penis, or indeed even your intelligence or strength), and even when they do they are still reducible to matters of individual difference (many women cannot get pregnant, for a variety of different reasons, while many transsexual men can, thus no law can simply assume all women can get pregnant and no men can), or even individual differences don’t matter (e.g. women should simply have the same right to divorce, vote, or own property as men, regardless of any differences, individual or otherwise, provided they are all legally competent adults).

None of the above should even have to be explained. Yet routinely I find it does. That measures how far we are from being a fully humanist society.

Besides the reasons to want this fairness (of treating people as the individuals they are rather than irrationally mapping on to them the perceptions and averages assigned to their gender) there is the fact of the harm that is done by defying or denying any effort to realize this fairness–in society, in our communities, in ourselves. Denying that this defiance or denial happens is the first pillar that ensures it frequently does. Especially since cognitive biases can be pernicious in being undetected even in oneself, if you don’t even know to look for them and then compensate or correct for them; or worse, if you deny you even have to. It is easy to assimilate stereotypes and act and think in accordance with them without being aware that you are, or without being aware that it’s irrational (but instead trying to rationalize it, by finding clever ways to convince yourself those stereotypes are more pervasively true than they really are).

A rational person is someone who cares about living a self-examined life in which they look for these kinds of biases not only in their society and community but in themselves, and then doing something to fix it. And a feminist is someone who does this in regard to not just overt, but latent sexism. Thus, since a rational person is someone who does this generally, all rational people will be feminists. Conversely, if you aren’t a feminist, you aren’t a fully rational person. This does not mean all solutions to any discovered problem are the right solutions or even good ideas at all, but one cannot find the right solutions, the good ideas, if you aren’t even looking for them in the first place. And you won’t really be looking very hard if you aren’t passionate about the result. In other words, if you don’t deeply care that your society and community be as wise and as just as it can be. Which entails deeply caring about sexism and its purge and defeat.

Religious prejudice comes in many levels, from religious supremacism (e.g. Christians are the master race deserving of full support from the government and atheists are barely human scum who deserve to have their rights taken away or even kicked out of the country) to unconscious religious bias (e.g. treating Christians with more favoritism than atheists, as when deciding to listen to them or befriend them or employ them or how much to pay them or whether to promote them or when blaming anything they do wrong on their “being an atheist” rather than finding the same reasons as when a Christian does something wrong, all without even realizing you’re doing that). Prejudice against women comes in the same spectrum, and I have seen all points on that spectrum realized in the United States, the supposedly enlightened culture–and not just in the United States, but within the atheist movement as well. All the way from male supremacism (e.g. women are just inferior to men in nearly every way and government and business should simply recognize that and distribute rights, benefits, and privileges accordingly) to unconscious sexism (e.g. treating men with more favoritism than women, as when deciding to listen to them or befriend them or employ them or how much to pay them or whether to promote them or when blaming anything they do wrong on their “being a woman” rather than finding the same reasons as when a men does something wrong, all without even realizing you’re doing that). I have seen it all, the whole spectrum, in my country and in the atheist community.

We should be doing something about it. We should be debating what’s to be done. Not whether anything is to be done. Because rational and enlightened people identify problems in themselves and their communities and do what they can to fix them. Sexism is a problem. It would be a problem to prevent even if it didn’t exist. But it certainly does exist, even in our supposedly advanced culture, even in our supposedly rational community. And I care about that.

That is why I am a feminist.

Free Pussy Riot

What a shame! Prosecutors have called for Pussy Riot members to be jailed for 3 years! A verdict is expected in coming days.

Prosecutors have called for three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot to be jailed for three years after arguing they had insulted all of Russian Orthodoxy and posed a danger to society.

“They must be isolated from society,” the federal prosecutor Alexei Nikiforov told the Moscow court on Tuesday. He and lawyers for the victims argued that if they were not jailed, they would strike again.

The three band members – Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich – have been charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after performing a “punk prayer” against President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

In their closing arguments, prosecutors argued the women were not carrying out a political act, but acting on deep hatred for Russian Orthodoxy. “They violated the traditions of our country,” Nikiforov said.

He said the fact that “no politicians” were named in the punk band’s song proved it was not a political act. The name and chorus of the song Pussy Riot performed was called Virgin Mary, Chase Putin Out.

Prosecutors presented the women as dangerous feminists.

It is so urgently necessary for women to become dangerous feminists in dangerous patriarchal, misogynistic, religious society.

I hope brave women sing and sting like Pussy Riot in all the religious temples, churches, mosques, synagogues all over the world against religion and religious oppression of women. Please don’t say that the time hasn’t come yet.

Why I am a Feminist – Aron Ra

Warning: I’m about to voice my opinion on feminism and misogyny in the freethought community. Get out while you can. I know I should keep my mouth shut like I have done for the whole last year, but I’ve I decided not to take my own advice anymore.

When I was a little boy, (we’re talking 1971 here) my deeply religious babysitters told me that women could never fly fighter jets because of alleged differences in their depth perception, or their physical center of gravity altering their sense of balance, or the ways in which female brains reportedly processed information differently than the brain of a male.

This is just one example of sexual inequality being alleged as a biological fact. While I concede there are a few things most women can’t do as well as some men -owing to a proportion of upper body strength, that just might be the limit of justifiable reasons for gender restrictions. That is as much credence as I can give to that. So women shouldn’t be expected have fair odds against men of equal weight in a boxing ring. What about beyond that?

I knew a woman who was six feet tall and could bench 270lbs. She could be an ambulance paramedic because she could meet the criteria -where a lot of men could not. That’s what matters. Maybe that’s how my metric differs from the norm of earlier generations. Now what if the job is not physically demanding in that specific area? How could there be any difference then? I don’t think there is.

I know of one case where a female pilot killed 20 people in a helicopter crash. I doubt her gender could have played any role in that at all. If it was her fault, I would sooner blame the fact that the military put a difficult and dangerous multi-million-dollar aircraft in the hands of a teenager. Perhaps any pilot who was old enough to qualify for commercial insurance should have done better?

My wife often laughs at me for being “roaringly heterosexual”, but I am also one of those atypical freaks who finds intelligence sexy. Cute cannot compensate for dumb, and one certainly is not the other. If a woman shows that she is actually smarter than I am, oh honey! I know; there are not many other men like that.

It’s not about sex either. There are many women in the secular movement with commercial-grade comeliness, and I am proud that they count me among their peers, but that’s not the criteria by which we are associated, obviously. Some of my favorite heroes are women; Boadicca, Hypatia, Ruslana. When I say that I respect a woman for her mind, I actually mean it, and not in the same tongue-in-cheek fashion as saying that I read Playboy for the articles.

At the same time, I can’t simply turn off hard-wired hormonal responses to sexual stimuli. For example, it has often happened that I may be amongst a number of sharp-witted women intellectually analyzing subjects of scientific substance with profound perspective, and there I am, suddenly –helplessly- focused on some elegant lass who casually passed with a fabulous ass, and befuddled my brilliance, rebooting my brain in mid-debate. I don’t always possess the necessary class to conceal such embarrassing distractions discretely.

Still I won’t support or defend a policy prohibiting or inhibiting women from wearing ‘sexualized’ clothing at skeptics conferences; vendors or not, doesn’t matter. I know it’s mostly nerds at these sorts of things, but it still doesn’t take that much research for anyone to figure out how to blend in or stand out appropriately. I wouldn’t dictate how someone else dresses. Speaking personally, even having such a rule seems unnecessarily prudish.

I have even heard a suggestion that speakers in skeptical events should be prohibited from engaging in carnal liaisons with any attendees who were not also on stage. This is just absurd. The excuse is that there is supposedly some unequal power issue which leaves those in the audience being treated like doe-eyed sycophants –not by the expectedly exploitive speakers, but by the policy itself. I know from experience that occurrences of adulation are relatively rare, and typically concern only legally responsible adults. So why should there even be a rule like that one?

Mind you, while I have been on stage a few times myself, I have no bias on this point to influence my objectivity. I am married, and my wife and I prefer not to ‘swing’. Another reason I might avoid such judgments is that I have the advantage of sufficient social skills that I know there are behavioral boundaries. Even if I’ve had a few drinks, I still know there’s a line there, and I don’t always need to venture toward it. A lot of other people aren’t aware there should even be a line, and that’s only part of the problem.

Even though I’m neither popular nor important enough to be invited to TAM or Skepticon, it sometimes happens that I am asked to participate at atheist events. Once I even shared the stage with Richard Dawkins and Rebecca Watson at the same time. That was a stunning revelation. Watson was supposed to talk about ‘communicating atheism’, but instead she used her time to explain how uncomfortable feminism is in the secular movement. What was shocking about that were the comments on the video once it was uploaded to my channel. Anyone who thinks she exaggerated, or who doesn’t believe there is a problem with sexism in secularism need only read a few of those posts, especially the early ones; they vindicated all the horrible things she listed about the vile sexist threats she spoke of.

Understand that I do not say any of this to fit in or be popular. I don’t think it is possible to comment on this topic at all and still be popular in this movement anymore. But I sincerely do not understand hate, nor why other people fixate on negativity. It’s just not the way I think. There is a positive aspect to nearly all our experiences. If you can’t find something good, at least allow yourself to be impressed, because sharing the things you love is what will endear you to others. Seriously, nobody cares about what you hate, and you shouldn’t either.

So I don’t get the sort of mindset which sets any demographic as being superior or inferior to another in vague general terms. Specific arguments of that sort are at least possible, though I can’t remember ever seeing one. Being a white male from a fairly insular upbringing, I may not be very observant of that sort of thing. There were a lot of bigots in my own family once upon a time, but now my more-ethnic friends have to tell me about the prejudice they’ve encountered, or else I wouldn’t know that still goes on.

I was equally unaware of misogyny, and by that I mean REAL misogyny, not just guys being heterosexual. There has to be socially acceptable means of having a healthy sex-life, of seeking and inviting partners to pursue such basic biological drives with mutual benefits. No, a misogynist is not simply responding to his hormones; he is making a hate claim, portraying women as subordinate, subservient, insufficient, and somehow deserving of disrespect or even abuse. I honestly do not understand how even the most hateful bigots can take that stance.

The shocking part of all these recent controversies to me is not that misogyny exists outside the world and works of Martin Luther, but that it somehow thrives today, and that it still exists in the freethought community of all places. How could it? Who else has a more progressive perspective, with the most tolerant attitudes, and the most advanced ideas? How could such a despicable disposition, so repugnant, so medieval, remain at all in any group that includes so many Star Trek fans? Have we learned nothing from the next gen?

Why I am a Feminist – Eva

‘Growing up in Lithuania, I was completely oblivious to feminism. I had no idea something like that existed, and I was blind to the fact that I lived in an extremely misogynistic country. It all changed somewhere around four years ago, not with a direct encounter with feminism, but with a website called TV Tropes.

Since that website is mostly about taking fiction apart and charting all the recurring patterns, they do end up mentioning feminist criticisms quite a bit. The more I read that website, the more I realized how awful the treatment of women in fiction was. Once I got to the “Double Standards” page and read through all the examples, I was pretty much a feminist.

That caused me to go through such an enormous shift in perception, that there isn’t really anything I could compare it to. And as the months went on, that shift in perception made me to not only look at everything I read and watched with feminist eyes, but also to look at the world around me in a new way.

When I was little, my grandmother would often tell me of how her parents one day told her that they found a husband for her, and that she’ll have to marry him or they will throw her out of the house. So my grandmother decided to stage a protest and spent a few hours sitting out in the front yard, butt-naked, in the snow, in the middle of winter. It didn’t really work, though, and she did end up marrying my grandfather, even though he was a complete stranger to her, and nine years older than she was.

As a little girl, I always found that story really boring, and it was only after I became a feminist that I suddenly realized that my grandmother was forced into marriage, and how appalling that was. And as I kept thinking more, I remembered how my grandmother would sometimes walk around with bruises on her face, and how some kind of wall in my mind prevented me from realizing that my grandfather was beating her.

And I started to look at my parents with different eyes too. I suddenly noticed that even though my dad is unemployed, he just sits around watching TV all day, and once mom comes back from work, he starts shouting at her, and insulting her, and telling her to make him dinner. I started to see how when she returns home from working the second shift, he follows her around telling her that she’s prostitute, because only prostitutes work so late.

I’m a feminist because I want women to be free of patriarchal oppression. I don’t want women to live lives as those that my grandmother lived and my mom still has to live, but I have to admit that I don’t have much hope for the country I live in, feminism is just as non-existent around here as it ever was, and when I tried to explain feminism to my mom, she just declared “But men and women are already equal around here!”, despite the fact that there’s no “equality” in her life at all.

If the women of the world ever become liberated, it probably won’t happen in my lifetime, but I’m optimistic enough to hope that, if I ever have children, then maybe at least they will live to see it happen’.

Why I am a Feminist – Rita Banerji

“Why are you a Feminist?” is actually not a question. It is a defense that some women are now having to make to a majority of women world-wide. A majority which thinks that now that women have the vote (even if not in all countries yet) and can apply to most jobs (even if not all yet), Feminism’s time is out. All it is – is an oddball, angry outfit that makes all women look bad. Look bad to whom? To men, of course! If women want men to like them, many believe they must rid the world of Feminism. In an oddly circular way the reason they believe that is because that’s what men are telling them: Want us love you, get rid of Feminism.

So even as I will do my bit by explaining ‘why I am a feminist,’ I also need to state how strange I think it is that I (or for that matter anyone) even needs to explain. It’s not just having to explain—to women—that’s strange, but also the aversion I see in most women towards Feminism is puzzling to me!! It’s weird because it is like an African-American having to explain why they are civil rights activists to other colored people who happily use the rights the civil rights activists have fought for, but hate being identified with the anti-racism movement!!!

So here goes:

1) I am a feminist because I am an individual, who wants a gender-just society, and not just because I am a woman. Therefore, even if I was a man, I would still be a feminist, like many men are! It is not about my gender, but about my ideology as an individual. Just as the civil rights movement was supported by some white people who like the black civil rights activists wanted a racially just society.

2) I am a feminist because as a woman I want to live on and occupy this earth with the same freedom and nonchalance as men. I don’t know what planet the anti-feminist people live on, but more than 98% of the land and resources of the planet that I inhabit—called EARTH—by the U.N.’s 2012 estimate is owned and controlled by men! Women own less then 2%. For me, that is already a mind-blowing, unacceptable, and fundamental inequality. It’s the equivalent of slavery!

3) I am a feminist because women don’t have the most basic of human rights – the right to live safely, simply because they are female. By 2030, India will have systematically eliminated 20% of women from its population, annihilated both before and after birth — only because they are female. And China will have similarly eliminated 20% of its female population. Since these two countries together constitute 40% of the human population, the implication of this is global. This is a genocide – the systematic and deliberate destruction of a targeted human group—on a scale that’s historically unprecedented. Furthermore, there’s not one country in the world where women are not subjected to one or another form of violence, like rape, sex-trafficking, “domestic” violence, random femicides, lethal customs like FGM — because of their gender. Women live in fear of their safety and lives, inside and outside their homes, everywhere, all the time, in a way that men never have to. Yet, governments and international bodies don’t see this as a violation of the basic human rights of a group that constitutes one-half of the human race. They just relegate it to the ‘domestic’ bin, along with cooking, cleaning and laundry!!

4) I am a feminist because I understand that I am a part of the social momentum for a just and humane society. There are rights that I am fighting for today, like the fundamental right to life and safety for girls and women everywhere, which may not be realized in my lifetime. But this I must do for the generations of girls and women to come, just as today as a woman there are certain rights I have, only because the women (and some men) before me fought for those rights for my generation.

Sometime ago, a friend who has two daughters, one of who dreams of becoming an astronaut, was telling me about how she wants this and that for her daughters, like she would for her sons, and then shuddering, like she was shaking off some insects that had crawled on her, she said, “But I am not a feminist!”

And I replied, “That you certainly aren’t! To be a feminist you need to be fighting for girls and women to have equal rights and access to all things, to life, like boys and men. Then there is the “feminist user.” That is – people who directly or indirectly use rights that women and girls are already entitled to only because feminists have fought for these rights. “Feminist users” are important as well! For it is only when rights are used, that they are strengthened. You however fall into the category of a “shameless feminist user.” You curse the very people who fought for the rights that you use, and that you hope will help your daughters’ lives in the future!”

I think that ever man and woman, who wants all the girls and women in his/her family and community to lead a life of dignity with every right and freedom that every human being is entitled to, needs to support the feminist movement worldwide.

‘Islamism kills generation’. Protest against Olympic Committee for allowing Islamism in Olympics.

We demand justice for women in Olympics. Feminists have been demanding justice for women. But it seems no one likes to listen to them. Why does everybody forget the Olympic principles?

Universal fundamental ethical principles, such as: ‘Any form of discrimination [including gender discrimination] is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement’ (Principle 5)

A commitment to equality: ‘implementing the principle of equality of men and women’ (Chapter 1, Rule 2.7)

Neutrality in sport: ‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted on any Olympic sites, venues or other areas’ (Chapter 5, Rule 51.3)

Feminists demanded an end to gender-based discrimination and stereotypes. The International Olympic Committee did not protest against gender-based discrimination the way they protested against race-based discrimination. South Africa was banned from the Olympics for 21 years over its policy of apartheid. The International Olympic Committee violated the Olympic principles about gender equality by allowing countries that have anti-women-sharia laws to participate in the Olympics. It has also allowed athletes to wear veils, a symbol of oppression and to observe religious fasting that may higher the risk of dehydration during Olympic Games.

Femen, a Ukrainian feminist organization demands that the International Olympic Committee condemns violence against women in the Islamist states. Femen says that with the support of the International Olympic Committee Islamist governments actually use the participation of women in the Olympic Games to legitimize the killing and torturing of women.

Topless Femen activists Perform Anti-Islamist Olympic protest in London today. Five protesters are arrested.

How long will feminists from the West have to fight for women worldwide? Time has come for sane people living in the Muslim countries to move their butts and start an uncompromising movement against Islamic oppression.

Why I am a Feminist – Skeptifem

‘My feminism really began after reading The Beauty Myth, by Naomi Wolf. The book is far from revolutionary by my standards now, but when I read it my world was changed forever. This was years after I had been involved in skepticism, and years after becoming an atheist, just barely into my twenties. The difficult questions being raised by her work felt awfully familiar to me, she sounded just like my skeptic and atheist friends who were critical of ideas that were supposedly too sacred to question.

The book didn’t just make me think, it made me angry. I had spent years suffering for ideas I found out were totally fabricated, and designed specifically to make me feel horrible about myself so someone else could profit from it. I suffered for ideas that elevated the status of men at the expense of women. I compromised my health many times to lose weight, and there was virtually never a time that I gave up constant vigilance against gaining weight. It is a pitiable, tiring way to live, and I had done it for about 7 years at that point. I didn’t suffer as badly as other women I knew, many abused themselves for weight loss but also put up with humiliating (and sometimes painful) cosmetic procedures to rid themselves of hair, wrinkles, and other normal human features. When I was a teenager my mother got acid poured on her face to sear the wrinkles off of it. A surgeon, someone who pledges to do no harm to patients, did that to her for money. It echoed so perfectly what popular culture told me about appearance and beauty that it wasn’t even remarkable to me, it was normal for women to hate their bodies and faces. It was so normal that the violence inherent in all of it was invisible. Such a hatred for my body meant seeing me, all of me, as a thing instead of a person. Other women had chipped away at their sense of self exactly as I had.

I wasn’t transformed over night, but I did change a lot about myself pretty quickly. Eating like a normal person actually resolves many psychological problems caused by starvation, so I felt much better in general. I grieved for the years I had wasted hurting myself. I grieved for women who were still hurting themselves. I began to see that I had worth as a person. I was worth listening to and nourishing. I got help from a friend in college and enrolled in some classes, something I never thought I would do. Feminism helped me feel like a real person. I thought to myself, “men get to feel this way all the time, they don’t even have to fight for it. Every woman deserves to feel like they matter.” I wanted more people to know what I knew.

The more I thought about and researched the way women suffer for beauty, and the way men gain from that, I began to see some interesting parallels with religion and scams of all sorts. I became eager to discuss feminism with people in the skeptics groups I frequented. I felt as though I had discovered some new interesting intellectual territory, and was excited to see what other people thought. So many friends had used their intellects to impress me in the past with analysis of various issues. Surely, a great discussion would ensue.

I could not have been more wrong. I was met at every turn with dismissal and embarrassingly fallacious reasoning. What had happened to the intellectual honesty, the curiousness, of the people I knew? Why was no one outraged at the poor quality of arguments being used to dismiss my findings outright? I never expected everyone to agree with me, but I expected the level of discourse afforded to creationists and homeopaths. It became apparent that most of the people in my circle were… men. They didn’t want to think about the things I brought up, and they all helped each other avoid confronting problems with sexism. I became disillusioned with these groups, even though I still strongly supported the stated principles of all of the groups. I still believe in those things, and believe feminism is inherent in critical thought about problems affecting women and girls.

It got much more troubling to me once I began to research things like rape and sexual harassment. I realized that I had either been subject to sexual harassment, witnessed it against another woman, at every job I have ever worked at. This was true of virtually every woman I knew. The ones who spoke up usually got in trouble or were ignore. I realized that sexual abuse was a common experience for women as well. I knew from personal experience how little the judicial system cares if you decide to report being raped. I reported having been raped as a teenager. I gave the police contact information for other women who I knew who had been abused by the same guy, and they never even called them to collect statements. They did question me repeatedly and gave me a card to call someone for psychological help, as if I wanted to discuss what had happened even more. That was all that ever happened. People I told outside of the police had mixed reactions, a lot of men simply thought I was a liar or a whore, and it made dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse much more difficult. I saw these attitudes mirrored all over society. Outside of feminism there was not much concern about these issues at all.

I got more involved with feminist groups, spaces that were much safer for women, and got introduced to feminism that dealt with more than the issues affecting economically privileged white women. I became interested in how racism and colonialism functioned. I am white and didn’t want to do to people of color what men had done to me. I wanted to listen instead. I made a point of finding people with experiences very different from my own, and trying to really understand their perspective. It was amazingly difficult but it helped me develop a lot of maturity, and to also see that social justice was a struggle for the majority of people in the world. I saw how we could all support each other. This is something I still try to do, something central to my feminism today.

Eventually I wanted to write, something that was outside the realm of possibility to me just a few years before. I had come a long way from thinking I was not worth listening to. Since reading The Beauty Myth I’ve discovered some troubling things about Naomi Wolf’s beliefs, but I will always be grateful to her for writing that book. I will always be grateful to other brave women who write, like bell hooks and Andrea Dworkin, for helping to expand my understanding of the world we women live in. My life had improved so much because of individuals who had decided that it was important to spread a message of truth. They wrote despite the ridicule and insults, they wrote because it was too important to let other people stop them. I want to be that person for someone else out there.’

(Dear fellow feminists, Skeptifem has shared her story with us, why she is a feminist. You can share your stories with us too! -Taslima Nasreen)

A big celebration of patriarchal tradition

Yes, it happens in the Indian subcontinent every year. It is a big patriarchal festival celebrated by Hindus. Men and women of all ages, of all classes and of all castes celebrate Raksha Bandhan or the bond of protection. On this auspicious day, sisters tie a silk thread called Rakhi on their brothers’ wrists and pray to God for their health and well-being. Brothers make a promise to protect their sisters from all harms and troubles.

There is no such festival where sisters promise to protect their brothers from all evil and brothers pray for their sisters’ health and well-being.

Middle class is rapidly expanding. Educated people are emerging. Technocrats are everywhere. Women are becoming more and more financially independent. But everybody will celebrate Raksha Bandhan day after tomorrow. It has been celebrated for centuries but no one says, it is not necessary to celebrate Raksha Bandhan when women are becoming educated and independent and they can very well take care of themselves. Instead of encouraging women to be strong and courageous, people celebrate Raksha Bandhan which is a symbol of women’s vulnerability. The message is, women are weak and vulnerable, so they need to be protected by men.

In reality, sisters are expected to give their inherited properties to their brothers. Many sisters are forced to stay with abusive husbands because brothers are not ready to take care of their sisters. Many sisters commit suicide for being helpless. Many widow-sisters are abandoned by their brothers and flocked to Vrindavan, a holy city where they have no other alternative but to live a miserable life and wait to die. And it is not uncommon that brothers kill sisters to save family honor. If brothers protected their sisters, India would not have become the 4th most dangerous place for women in the world.

The celebration of patriarchy is the celebration of men’s superiority and women’s inferiority. The festival is getting bigger and more glamorous every year. It is alarming.

Both burqas and sexualized ads are ugly

Both burqas and sexualized ads or sexual objectification dehumanize women or reduce women to mere sexual objects.
The purpose of the burqa is to erase the individual, women are sexual objects, men get sexually aroused whenever they see women, so for the sake of men women must have their bodies covered. The purpose of the sexualized ads is to erase the individual, women are sexual objects, men get sexually aroused whenever they see women, so for the sake of men women must have their bodies uncovered.